Aerodyne, a leading drone enterprise solution provider, has successfully obtained a waiver under FAA Part 107.31. This waiver allows them to conduct drone operations at P&G's manufacturing plant in Lima, Ohio, without the use of visual observers or ground-based systems. Aerodyne’s operational expertise, the FlytBase software platform, the Hextronics Atlas M300 docking station, and the Casia G detect and alert (DAA) solution made this possible.
The operational site & use-case
P&G's Lima plant is among their largest facilities in the United States, specializing in the production of fabric care detergents, including liquid fabric enhancers and perfume products. It is a restricted space that necessitates multiple daily perimeter inspections for security. Drone operations also allow P&G to track freight trains and trucks carrying raw materials, allowing for more efficient production.
Drone response times are significantly faster than ground patrols, allowing for more efficient coverage of the entire plant area and a greater number of daily inspections. In addition, the service is significantly less expensive. Aerodyne has been providing drone services to P&G since 2022, but operations have previously required operations to remain within the visual line of sight of a human visual observer (VO).
"We’ve already seen the benefits a drone service has brought to patrols, but with this waiver, we can really optimize it even more. In both efficiency and cost, this helps cover more area faster and at a lower cost." — Scott Floyd, Drone Program Manager, P&G.
How FlytBase platform facilitated the waiver approval process
FlytBase is an enterprise-grade drone autonomy software platform to fully automate scheduled, repeatable, and on-demand drone operations. With little or no human intervention, users can conduct BVLOS drone flights using docking stations, all controlled from their remote command centers.
By enabling apps and integrations and ensuring the highest data security standards, reliability, and scalability, the FlytBase platform lets users seamlessly integrate autonomous drones into enterprise workflows.
For the sUA (small unmanned aircraft) operation at P&G's Lima site, the FAA approved the waiver based on a set of prerequisites that need to be met during its operations. The following functionalities within the FlytBase platform were critical in obtaining the waiver:
- Drone telemetry: Having constant visibility of the drone's telemetry, including altitude, position, direction of flight, attitude, flight mode, battery life, DAA status, and C2 status, is one of the essential requirements for waiver approval. The FlytBase platform displays drone telemetry to monitor these parameters throughout the flight.
2. Flight planning: The waiver stipulates that routes must be pre-planned and programmed into the aircraft to ensure automatic adherence. With FlytBase, remote PICs can easily pre-program and schedule their missions. Operators can set mission altitude, speed, finishing actions, and various waypoint actions, streamlining the planning process.
- Geofences: The waiver requires remote PICs to identify operational area obstacles and boundaries in order to avoid collisions or property damage. FlytBase enables operators to define appropriate geofences, ensuring that the drone remains within the designated zone while flying. Flights are also limited to 150 feet above ground level (AGL).
- Failsafes: If a Command and Control (C2) link or GPS signal is lost, proper mitigation measures must be in place. FlytBase offers a number of failsafe options, including low battery, drone LTE link loss, and RC link loss. To effectively address such situations, users can customize the failsafe actions and trigger values (time or percentage).
- Designated launch sites & recovery site: FlytBase lets operators map specific launch sites and alternate safe locations. In the event of an emergency during flight, the drone can perform an autonomous Return to Safe Location (RTSL) based on predetermined sites.
- Emergency sites: FlytBase additionally enables operators to create emergency landing sites. In situations where the operator needs to stop the operation immediately to mitigate safety risks or concerns, the drone can be programmed to land autonomously at the designated emergency site.
7. Detailed Flight Logs: It is mandatory to create a log entry that includes the following information: the date, the sUA vehicle/serial ID, the name of the Remote PIC who conducted the test flight, the duration of the flight, and the outcome of the functional flight. To keep track of all flights, detailed logs can be viewed and downloaded from the FlytBase dashboard.
- Detect & Avoid: The ground control station must have Audio and Visual alerts for intruding aircraft. Casia G by Iris Automation is a ground-based air surveillance system that creates a volume of monitored airspace for safe operation, removing the requirement for individual VOs for each drone operation. It alerts the remote pilot to any airborne intruder presenting a collision risk, who can then command the drone to move to a safe zone.
The Casia G system is integrated with the FlytBase platform to ensure safe, collision-free flights. Operators can view Casia G’s surveillance area and intruder aircraft details such as position, velocity, and classification on the dashboard.
Learn how detect and avoid system works: https://www.flytbase.com/blog/detect-and-avoid-technology
How the solution works
The FlytBase platform provides all the necessary building blocks for enterprises to quickly build complex drone applications, including compatibility with different off-the-shelf drones (DJI Enterprise), multiple payloads, and docking stations.
It offers DockOS, a dedicated operating system for docking stations. Built with an industry-grade and highly secure protocol, DockOS is designed specifically to automate docking stations. This remarkable feature empowers operators to execute fully automated drone missions and workflows with ease.
Furthermore, the FlytBase platform enables seamless integration with Casia G systems. Operators can conveniently operate Casia G, the detect and alert (DAA) solution, remotely from the platform's dashboard using cloud connectivity via 4G/5G/LTE networks.
Nitin Gupta, Founder and CEO of FlytBase, emphasizes the significance of beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) operations and the importance of collaborative partnerships in driving industry growth. He states, "Through the development of a comprehensive platform capable of integration with multiple hardware, third-party software applications, and drone solution providers, FlytBase aims to unlock the true potential of drone autonomy.
The approval of waivers, such as the one achieved by Aerodyne and P&G, serves as validation and endorsement of our approach. We are excited about the opportunity to enable numerous other end-users to embrace true beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) operations, unlocking the full potential of drones in various industries."
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As a Marcom Manager at FlytBase, Baisali oversees the content strategy, creation, and management! With over 7 years of experience in the drone industry and 3 years of it at FlytBase, she’s a self-proclaimed drone fanatic and is obsessed with all things geographical. In 2022, she has been recognized as the “Women to Watch in UAS” for AI/Autonomy category by Women and Drones.
When she’s not busy hosting FlytBase’s webinar series or organizing NestGen - a global drone autonomy focused event, you can find her exploring the Patagonian Desert, the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, or the Yellowstone Caldera on Google Earth.